Paul Woodbury is a new presenter at the FEEFHS conference this year. I thought that we should get to know him a little more before the conference. He will be talking to us about genetics and DNA in genealogy. I’m excited to have him answer my burning question—”I’ve done some DNA testing, now what?”
Memorizing all of the capitals of the world and being able to draw each nation’s flag from memory by the 2nd grade combined with a family history binder from his grandma led Paul Woodbury to his love of family history. A pedigree chart showing ancestors from France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, and Isle of Man caught his attention.
Throughout his school years, Paul researched his own family. He started as a collector of names, dates, and places. After that came stories, biographies, and photos. As a junior in high school, Paul organized a family history tour through Denmark and Southern Sweden, visiting the places where many of his Scandinavian ancestors lived.
Paul’s introduction to genetic genealogy came in 2006, when PBS aired the television series African American Lives. In the program, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. investigated the family histories of prominent African Americans using traditional research in tandem with genetic genealogy. Paul said that “I was fascinated by this application of genetics to a field I loved, and I decided I wanted to become a genetic genealogist.”
Paul studied genetics at Brigham Young University between the years 2008-2014. He also minored in Family History. In his genetic studies, Paul found that most of his genetics professors “didn’t know what to do with me.” In the end, most of Paul’s genetic genealogy education was self-taught or through the mentoring of other prominent genetic genealogists like Angie Bush and CeCe Moore.
Paul taught for three years at the BYU Family History lab, offering weekly classes on various topics. He developed syllabus materials on genetic genealogy for use by the family history professors. Paul participated in a genealogy study abroad to France, Spain, and Italy. During the course of the trip, he toured and/or researched in nearly 30 archives including the Archivo Militar de Segovia (Military Archive of Segovia), the Real Chancilleria de Valladolid (The Royal Chancellery of Valladolid), the Archivo Storico di Firenze (Historical Archive of Florence), and the Archivo Segretto Vaticano (The Secret Vatican Archive).
While still at BYU, Paul began presenting at various conferences on genetic genealogy, French research, and other methodology topics. To date, he has presented at more than 20 local, national, and international conferences.
Genetics and family history aren’t the only loves in Paul’s life. He will be married in October 2015 to Robin Ellis. His favorite food is pumpkin cheesecake. He also enjoys good food, skiing, singing and dancing.